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How to get an internship

As a recruiter I love seeing internships on a resume. It shows me that this person didn’t just party for four

years or simply chose a major because they wanted to have the same classes as their friends. Instead this person invested their free time or their summers and possibly even worked for free in order to build up relevant experience that would complement their chosen degree. This is the type of person that I will hire without much thought; he/she has proven to me that they will invest as much time into my business as they did in themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live on the moon and know that internships are not always possible.  I don’t blame the people who had odd jobs here and there throughout their studies so that they could pay rent. I personally financed my own education though part time work and even though this is something that I am very proud of, in retrospect these odd jobs did little to help out in the long term. For one the jobs I did have during collage were all very mediocre and involved being a server, janitor, sales and telemarketing. Once I graduated I had a very hard time finding work and it took me quite some time to build up the necessary experience to get to where I am now. I want you know that it’s not impossible to reach your career goals without internships it will just take you a bit longer and often enough it may lead you down the wrong career paths.

I defiantly understand the dilemma, for one college students need money in order to pay rent, buy food, buy books and have some spending money to go out with their friends. In that regard a position as a server may seem appealing rather than having to go work for free for the possibility of a future pay off.   It’s a tough decision one that could easily have profound implications on the career path one takes.

Before we go out and try land an internship we should get an brief overview of the process which is best described in this video on how to get an internship

How To Prepare For An Internship

Number one stop is our University Career Center

Yes every university has them, and yet only a few students really utilize the resources available to them. I agree some are really bad and have volunteers that don’t know what they are talking about but this is definitely a good starting point. Universities are investing more money into their IT infrastructure thus most of the career centers can probably be accessed online where one can browse openings and even set up daily updates on the newest internships that become available. Seriously people utilize your career center, develop a relationship with the people working there as this may turn into some good leads later on. This is also a good place to have your resume reviewed, to discuss the career options and get help with interviews. Even if you are alumni these places will still be able to help you out with jobs.

Speaking of your Resume, it’s the number one deciding factor that recruiters use to decide if you will land an internship or not. Internships are competitive and they are not created by nice people who want to give you some awesome experience that you can later on use to get a bad ass job. NO internships are created as a way to leverage some cheap or even free labor in order to get some projects done more quickly which demand extra man power. In addition it’s also a great way to try somebody out for cheap and see if this person will work out in the long term which in turn reduces the overall HR recruitment costs.

At this stage nobody expects you to have multiple years or experience instead what we as recruiters want to see are good grades, a major that relates to the position of course and some extracurricular that are also relevant. This could be a position in Greek life, or a chair at your finance club, or involvement in school government. I know what you are thinking, how the heck am I going to be able to work, pay for school and also be part of a club. Look I’m not here to solve your life’s problems I’m simply telling you what a recruiter likes to see on a resume for an internship so take my advice and start building up your resume at an early stage.

Start stockpiling your projects and make a portfolio of the things you have done. Every class has some of final project that you could use to putHow to get an internship on your resume or even showcase during your interview. If you are a programmer I want to see code and some completed applications, if you are marketing major I would like to see some sort of advertising campaign or product analysis that you completed. If you are finance or accounting major I would like to see some excel spreadsheets and some analysis projects, if you are journalist or English major then some writing samples could do the trick. I hope you get the picture start building up your portfolio at an early stage.

Recommendations, Yes I love recommendations, not the fake ones that you copied from the internet and had your boss sign. Instead what I love to see is a healthy LinkedIn profile with recommendations from your teachers, your colleagues and your supervisors. What we are doing here is created social proof, let me explain. If you saw a picture of me next to Steve Jobs and Bill Clinton then you would undoubtedly think that I’m well connected and an influential person. We are creating the same social proof effect here with you LinkedIn profile. One or two recommendations do little to tell me anything, however If I see 10 to 15 recommendations all saying really nice things about you then nobody can dispute the fact that you are well connected and linked by your peers and supervisors. Consider how many teachers you have during your studies, yes all teachers have LinkedIn Profiles and all of them will be nice enough to leave a recommendation only if you ask for them.  Remember people are to busy to be nice to you so make sure that you add them and then write ask for your recommendation, don’t be shy you deserve it.

Your cover letter template is the best way to stand out when it comes to internships. Having read numerous resumes all of them more or less the same the only place to really differentiate you when you lack experience is the cover letter. You can tell me how much you love my company, and how impressed you are with the recent initiatives or products that we rolled out. How you would love to work for them and will do everything that is in your power to contribute. How you already took the initiative to learn program A or how you have signed up for the P.M.P certification. You found out my name and you will follow up with me on Thursday at 3pm. Then guess what you actually call me on Thursday at 3pm and have a set of questions that are intelligent and show me that you are really interested in contributing.

Which brings us to your contribution; You have to have the skills to pay the bills, if you are in accounting I would like to see some proficiency in Quick Books or S.Q.L or Excel, If you are marketer I would love to know that you understand Google-Analytic, Social Media, PCP or If you are in HR some proficiency with People-soft or a membership in S.H.I.R.M could do the trick. You will not be able to get these skills during your classes as these are very useless and mainly theory driven, instead you will have to go out and buy the software or buy a book and learn on your own. It’s not that hard and you don’t need some monotone old guy telling you how things used to be 20 years ago. Simply go chapter by chapter and do all the exercises and you will have the basics down. YouTube offers tutorials and free courses on almost anything. Learning is at our fingertips now it’s never been easier for you nearly 800 Universities now offer free courses on all subjects. Here is a great link that has a nice list of 725 free courses you can take online for free http://www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses I have also written up a guide on how you can improve your skills in my previous blog posts that you should read

How To Find An Internship

I meant this literally, get of your butt and let’s do this. Go to meetup.com and search for groups in your town. We want to use keywords such as Career, Networking, Recruitment and keywords relating to your your major such as Marketing, Finance and so on. Request to join and make sure to introduce yourself, leave a link to your LinkedIn profile. Then take a look at the members. Do we have any recruiters or HR people attending, do we have anybody who works for a company that could provide a good lead for us. Take a look when the group meet, RSVP and then go. Make sure to mingle with everybody, make some business cards that have your name phone and LinkedIn Profile on them. Our focus in these groups is to develop relationships with everybody we speak to. Use the notepad on your phone and jot down their name, business, email and phone number, you also want to make a few notes on the things you talked about. Once you get home it’s time to follow up with everybody. Make sure to add them to your LinkedIn profile and send them an email thanking them for the time and let them know that you are looking forward to meeting up again. This type of networking could easily lead to an internship, a mentor and even full time jobs when positions come up.

how to find an internshipNext we want to look at all the events that our local business associations and chamber of commerce are sponsoring. These include career fairs, guest speakers, workshops etc. All of them are great networking opportunities and all of them will provide valuable leads for us that could get us a foot in the door. Not to mention that it looks great on a resume when you are able to state that you attended a conference about the newest strategies in your chosen industry.  This is a great video that sums it up pretty well on how to get an internship but we will go much deeper then the basics described here

Now that we have explored the hugely neglected networking tactics for finding internships it’s time to turn to the good old strategies.

Our online search, don’t neglect the traditional means of find an internship which is of course indeed.com, monster.com, CareerBuilder.com and Craigslist. Simply type in your city + internship and see what comes up. A few sites that specialize in internships are http://www.internships.com/ and internmatch.com

Don’t neglect your professional associations, for myself since I graduated in HR I’ve always been part of SHIRM. They have their own job boards and post internships on a regular basis, I’m sure that whatever you chosen field is that associates will have the same opportunities.

This is another great video on how to find an internship discussed by students, what they got out of it and how they got an internship in the first place. Notice that most of them were very proactive in reaching out, and most of them had great relationship with their career center contacts. I cannot stress how important it is to network, it is simply the best way to get an internship even after collage. 

How To Ask For An Internship – Email Template

If all else fails don’t be afraid of picking up the phone and going through the business listings in your city. I simple visit to any company website or even a phone call and asking them about internships or if they are willing to create one may work just as well. Probably the fastest route to success is simply asking for the things you want. You will be surprised how many times you will actually get it.

The best way to go about asking for an internship is to do some research on the company and then use an elevator pitch and offer your services as an intern to the company.  Talk to you teachers and see if you they can drop a few names for you that you can contact, or simply improvise and start cold emailing all the companies that you would like to work for.

Dear Mr/Ms Whatever (it’s important to find out the name, if you need to know how I wrote about this in an earlier article)

I am a junior at “University” studying “Major” and my professor “Name” spoke highly of your company and suggested that I contact you.

“Company” has always had a reputation of innovation and fostering a very entrepreneurial work environment which has led to many improvements including A, B, and C. “Type of Industry” and principles are dear to my heart, I would like to offer my services as an Intern. I am a top student in “Major” and have maintained a GPA while working two part time jobs and financing my own education. I say this not to brag but to simply show you that I have the potential to be a strong asset to your team. I would like nothing more then the opportunity to learn from you and your team.

I will follow up next Tuesday at 3pm, if that time does not work for you please let me know 3 other times that would work better.

Warm Regards

Your Name

I hope that you now have a strong overview on the process on how to get an internship.

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